Earlier this month, the comptroller general Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland chastised Vancouver elected school trustees for not taking advantage of training opportunities - even though, according to her, they don't have the skills to do the job they were elected to do. But, just six months before, the province was warned a majority of those overseeing British Columbia's major post-secondary institutions don't even have training opportunities to take advantage of, with many of them basing their decisions on shoddy information.
In a report prepared for Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid, Ms. Wenezenki-Yolland stated Vancouver's trustees have not "demonstrated they have the management capacity to effectively govern" their district.
And that could explain why her office was "surprised" to find some school board members don't take advantage of the training and workshops provided by district staff and the British Columbia Association for School Trustees.
"To be effective all trustee should be required to take the extensive amount of orientation and training already available to them," the comptroller general concluded.
But at least those opportunities are available - an experience shared by most school board members across the province but not by many of their ivory tower counterparts.
In December 2009, British Columbia's auditor general John Doyle tabled the results of a survey in which only 13 percent of trustee respondents said don't "receive periodic training to assist them in conducting their board responsibilities."
By comparison, 54 percent of university governors said the same thing - the highest rate among the provincial public sector board members.
But perhaps even more troubling is the report's finding that 46 percent of governors feel their "debates are guided by insufficient or inappropriate information" - 10 percentage points higher than trustees.
So what's the government - which seems to have had no compunction about interfering in the affairs of the Vancouver school district - doing about that problem?
Well, even though governors are appointed by the province, an advanced education ministry spokesperson pointed out the universities they oversee are "autonomous entities."
As such those institutions are "responsible for the orientation of their board members," as well as ensuring "their boards receive the appropriate information."
That being said, the spokesperson stated the ministry is continuing to "evaluate how it can improve the flow of information within institutions, as well as ensuring board appointees "have expertise in critical areas."
The spokesperson added individual universities are also "looking for opportunities to improve the flow of information in light of the recommendations and set of best practices outlined in the Auditor General`s report."
The auditor general's survey was completed by 70 percent of provincial public sector board members.